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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China sentences two monks for offering prayers for Tibetan self-immolator

June 10, 2013

Dharmsala, June 4, 2013: In continuing crackdown on “crimes” related to the self-immolation protests in Tibet, two monks have been sentenced to three years in prison for offering prayers for Tibetan self-immolator Wangchen Norbu who passed away in his fiery protest last November.

According to reports, the two monks, Tsundue, 27 and Gedun Tsultrim, in his 30s, both from the Bido Monastery in Kangtsa region of Tsongon, eastern Tibet were sentenced on March 8. Sources in exile say that the monks were not represented by any lawyer and none of their family members were informed of the court proceedings.

Tsundue has been accused of organising a prayer service for Wangchen Norbu at the Monastery and also for leading a separate prayer service as chant master, which was attended by a large number of monks from the Bido Monastery and local Tibetans.

The other monk Gedun Tsultrim has been found guilty of coordinating the prayer service, organising buses for monks, and collecting donations.

Phayul had reported on the arrest of the two monks in January.

Wangchen Norbu, 25, set himself ablaze near the Kangtsa Gaden Choephel Ling Monastery on November 19, 2012 and succumbed to his injuries at the site of his protest.

He had raised slogans for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile, release of the Panchen Lama and freedom for Tibet.

 

His charred body was later carried inside the Monastery premises where a large number of monks and local people gathered and raised slogan calling for the Dalai Lama’s return and recited prayers for his long life late into the night.

Tsundue and Gendun Tsultrim had visited Wangchen Norbu’s house a day after he set himself.

Many monks and laymen had also visited the deceased’s home to show their solidarity. According to reports, Chinese security personnel arrested a number of Tibetans but all of them expect the two monks were released.

Since 2009, as many as 118 Tibetans living under China’s rule have set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.

The Chinese government has responded with even harsher policies, criminalising the self-immolation protests and sentencing scores of people to heavy prison terms on charges of “intentional homicide” for their alleged roles in the fiery protests. Chinese officials have barred Tibetans from offering prayers and showing solidarity with families of self-immolators and announced the cancellation of development funds to those villages where self-immolations have taken place.

The exile Tibetan administration maintains that the current situation in Tibet has stemmed from “several decades of Chinese misrule in Tibet” and discontent of the Tibetan people arsing from “political repression, cultural assimilation, economic marginalisation, and environmental destruction.”

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